Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Lost Poems ; "The Year the Rice-Crop Failed" & "Dog Otter"

Ever since retirement I have been looking for these two poems. They were winners (if I remember it right) of the National Poetry Competition 2005.  I had the Poetry Society magazine which published them, but somehow it didn't make it back to the UK with me.

Wonderful poems.  Delighted to find them.

The Year the Rice-Crop Failed

by Melanie Drane

The year we married, rainy season lasted
so long the rice crop failed. People gave up
trying to stay dry; abandoned umbrellas
littered the streets like dead birds. One evening
that summer, a typhoon broke the waters
of the Imperial moat and sent orange carp flopping
through the streets around the train station,
under the feet of people trying to go home.
The stairs to the temple became impassable;
fish slid down them in a waterfall, heavy
and golden as yolks. That night, I woke you
when the walls of our home began to shake;
we held our breath while the earth tossed,
counted its pulse as though we could protect
what we’d thought would cradle us –
then the room went still and you moved away,
back into sleep like a slow swimmer,
your eyes and lips swollen tight with salt.
The next morning, a mackerel sky hung over Tokyo.
The newspaper confirmed the earthquake
started inside the sea. I watched you dress to leave,
herringbone suit, shirt white as winter, galoshes
that turned your shoes into small, slippery otters.
After you were gone, I heard hoarse and angry screams;
a flock of crows landed on the neighbor’s roof,
dark messengers of Heaven. Did they come to reassure,
to tell me we’d be safe, that we would find
our places no matter how absurd it seemed,
like the fish sailing through the streets,
uncertain, but moving swiftly?

Dog Otter

by Kevin Saving

He senses danger and is gone,
the water bulging in his wake.
You needn’t ever count upon
this sight again, and so should take
the memory and then move on?
You’ll never know what rendezvous he’ll break
with liquid arabesques – nor how he’ll trawl
fresh eddys, find new shoals to dredge.
His underwater playgrounds call
within him like a lover’s pledge.
He’ll wear the river like a shawl
in slicked–back freedom, near the water’s edge.

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